The gap between clients and designers is closing. And the same can be said for the boundaries between designers, engineers as well as construction and property professionals. In particular, the divide between commercial design and property is narrowing, which we’ve previously explored.
But what exactly can commercial property learn from architecture and design? Let’s take a look at how a ‘branded experience’ can be translated into commercial property.
We live in an age of the experience economy. That means consumers have learnt to expect the unexpected. And design plays a key role in facilitating it. It’s a hyper-saturated, fast-moving market. In among that endless searching for something new, there is one thing has continued to be a staple in the commercial space – branding.
From fashion (prominent logos, slogans, and fonts) to furniture (IKEA’s tongue-in-cheek marketing and iconic flat pack) and even architecture (is anything more recognisable than the curve of a ZHA building?), branding is more important than ever.
In a large part, this stems from the increasing interest in the people and stories behind a product – essentially the brand narrative.
So what does all this have to do with commercial property? Plenty. The reality is that branding is both an aesthetic exercise and a strategic approach.
One of the best examples of this in architecture can be seen in ‘starchitect’s’ like Bjarke Ingels. Bjarke has built a personal brand and narrative through his work, which is instilled with, and a reflection of, his architectural brand. It’s instantly recognisable, in the same way a slick Apple product is instantly recognisable. And it comes down to some key considerations.
Coming to Sydney’s Carriageworks this 9 – 10 August, the inaugural FRONT event will explore what the commercial property market can learn from design to deliver more meaningful commercial experiences that offer occupants genuine value-add. Read on for a summary of the key takeaways for commercial property professionals and register for FRONT today.
Consistency is key
A degree of consistency is imperative when developing a brand. A major drawcard of the branded experience is that it allows consumers to anticipate (to an extent) what they are buying into; would-be occupants are more likely to make the leap into tenancy if they have a good idea of the quality and nature of what they are actually purchasing.
Against this backdrop, ensuring a consistent, coherent brand offering across properties – or even across different parts of the same property – is critical, and can drive value.
Find your focus and build a brand identity around this, whether this is sustainability, end of trip facilities, or working with a particular designer or selection of designers to achieve a recognisable aesthetic. Your properties should not be copies of one another, but they should all be tied together by clear, distinctive, unifying elements.
One example of a brand that achieves this is Aēsop. Every single store is designed as an individual expression, yet there is an undeniable aesthetic sensibility that brings each of these unique stores together.
“For us to get the best possible outcomes for our clients, we rely on our collaborators and in the commercial sector, that means having relationships with all the different players such as contractors and consultants. The thing that gets me excited about FRONT is the fact it will be bringing everyone together, in a completely new way.” – Gavin Harris, Design Director at Futurespace and FRONT ambassador.
It’s one thing to promise a branded experience and another entirely to actually deliver it. Make sure that your properties actually meet – if not exceed – expectations and earn a reputation for being genuine.
If your latest development is marketed as sustainable, for example, ensure that you engage with this promise in a meaningful way and actually incorporate truly sustainable solutions.
Today’s consumers are discerning, and can easily tell the difference between marketing speak and a genuine value-add offering. Recognising this and ensuring delivery of all expectations is crucial to winning long term, quality tenants and establishing a positive reputation within the industry.
Play the long game
Don’t consider projects or properties in isolation. Instead, look broadly across your portfolio and consider how different assets can work together to fill different needs and cater for different markets.
Additionally, always consider how well properties will perform over time, and whether there is room for evolution around your brand offering as an asset ages.
For many commercial properties, incorporating flexible, adaptable floor plates and sustainable solutions can meet this need for evolution. Ideally, this should be coupled with understanding that design that is future facing and will always age better than trend-driven, reactive design.
FRONT crosses interdisciplinary boundaries to unite professionals with one common language: design. To learn more about the overlap between Australia’s commercial design and property industries, register for FRONT today.